We’re in the era of data; it’s a game changer for businesses, with potential to drive innovation, implement efficiencies and keep pace with the ever changing digital landscape. The good news is most enterprises have this information at their fingertips, the not so good news is that trying to manage and store this data with cloud services presents a whole suite of challenges.
To learn more about how businesses can use more of their data while reducing the complexity and expense of managing the infrastructure behind it, TechRadar Pro spoke with the Chief Information Officer of Pure Storage, Cathy Southwick.
What have been some of the biggest changes in the storage industry over the past 10 years?
Over the last decade there have been a few significant shifts in the storage landscape. First is the move to all-flash. As it stands today, almost three quarters (70%) of organisations employ flash in mission-critical production environments. I see there being a couple of key moments in the storage industry over the past decade:
All-flash storage: The “tipping point” for flash in the IT industry was 2014, as the storage market made a significant shift from disk to delivering new products that qualify as all-flash storage. But as the cost of flash continues to fall, flash will continue to become the effective enterprise standard for primary storage and the foundation for any cloud – internal, SaaS, or public.
The new flash-to-flash-to-cloud approach: Unlike legacy disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) architectures, ObjectEngine, the industry’s first flash-to-flash-to-cloud (F2F2C) platform, helps customers recover data rapidly, save money via cloud economics, and streamline data re-use for workloads and business priorities beyond backup – such as analytics, artificial intelligence, and regulatory compliance.
Storage as-a-service: Storage-as-a-Service delivers the proven power and flexibility of industry-leading data storage for any data center and any data - hybrid, on-prem, or cloud-only. Block, file, or object storage.
How do you ensure you stay focused as a company on your goals?
We’re market leaders because we don’t stand still. From the very beginning we wanted to disrupt the tired and stale storage industry and challenge the status quo with new ideas. The combination of innovative technology, a new business model and our laser focus on customer success has allowed us to grow at a phenomenal rate.
We benefited, and still do benefit, from our ability to be a first mover in our market. The challenges facing businesses when it comes to data are also constantly evolving, and we develop solutions accordingly. In fact, 18 percent of our revenue goes into research and development, which demonstrates our commitment to continuous innovation.
How important has the relationship with your customers been in helping Pure Storage grow?
It is critical. We were founded with a customer-centric mind-set, and I’m proud to say that a decade later and that has not changed. This is evident through our commitment to innovation, with our industry-first solutions helping to solve real-world challenges for our customers and deliver digital transformation. It also explains how we have maintained our Net Promoter Score (NPS) in the top 1% of B2B companies for four years in a row.
How do you see the storage market changing in the next 10 years?
In my opinion the era of the flash storage has another few milestones to reach, where we’ll see the technology continue to advance, get faster, and become more efficient.
But it’s not just about the technology itself, it’s about customer experience, choice and flexibility in the way that they consume storage, and indeed all technology. Businesses want IT to be offered as a pool of flexible resources that can be used by any application or any environment in any location.
That’s why at Pure we’re focusing on making additions to our Storage as-a-Service portfolio, making us the first and only company to offer a unified subscription that enables complete flexibility across cloud and on-prem solutions. This is why in our second decade will see us transform traditional storage into the modern data experience.
What is one piece of advice you would give entrepreneurs starting a business today?
Don’t take your customer knowledge for granted. Customer needs vary, and could change rapidly. Just because you understand them today doesn’t mean you should take that for granted tomorrow. Having ongoing discussions with different areas of the business is vital in understanding what it is that customers actually want and the challenges they face, whether their concerns are about endpoint security or simply the availability of collaboration tools.
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Cathy Southwick is the Chief Information Officer of Pure Storage. In this role, she leads Pure’s global IT strategy and advances the company’s operations through the delivery of next-generation technology capabilities and systems. Cathy is an accomplished leader with over 20 years of experience defining and executing forward-looking IT strategies. Prior to Pure Storage, Cathy held leadership positions at AT&T, including Vice President, Technology Engineering and Vice President, Cloud Planning & Engineering. During her tenure at AT&T, Cathy led the planning and execution of IT strategies from the Core Network, IT application modernization, and the IT cloud.